Meet our committee  MCB initiatives  MCB statements  DEI resources

What we believe

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360-degree view of the Quad

The community of biologists in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois is committed to understanding life at the organismal, cellular, and molecular levels. Our fundamental understanding of the natural world directly impacts human health, the health of the environment, and our broader culture and society. Thus, innovation, drive, and excellence are critical to our mission.

Our entire community firmly believes that scientific discovery and advances in the life sciences can be made by anyone, and that diversity within our school drives the innovation that keeps MCB research at the forefront of scientific discovery. However, we recognize that societal, academic, and structural barriers have often kept talented individuals out of our community.

We are committed to eliminating these barriers and supporting students and scientists of all backgrounds, both to push our science to new heights and to fulfill our mission as an educational institution. We condemn racism and sexual harassment, which have long held back both individuals and science as a whole. We will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, national origin, religion, neurological differences, or socioeconomic status.

We welcome and strive to support all students as they think deeply about the molecular basis of life, work hard to understand basic biology, and share their scholarship with others.

MCB Initiatives

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Instructional program initiatives

Merit Program

The Merit Program for Emerging Scholars is a challenging program for select undergraduates from groups that have been historically underrepresented in science, math, and engineering. To be invited into the program, students must have high academic potential and be committed to excellence. With this program, we hope to create a community of scholars where students collaborate to solve challenging problems, develop friendships based on common academic interests, and inspire each other to maintain a high level of commitment to excellence.

Inclusive STEM Teaching

Every member of the MCB Instructional Program has successfully completed the six-week online course offered by the Inclusive STEM Teaching Project, and is certified in Inclusive STEM Teaching.  This training requires instructors to engage in deep reflection and discussion around topics of equity and inclusion in learning environments across a variety of institutional contexts.  The experience improves personal awareness, self-efficacy, and the ability to create inclusive STEM learning environments for our students. 

Early career seminars

The Departments of Cell & Developmental and Microbiology organize seminars that welcome early career scientists to campus. Speakers from historically marginalized communities are encouraged to apply.

The Department of Microbiology’s Abigail Salyers Distinguished Early Career Researcher Seminars is open to senior PhD students and postdoctoral fellows studying any aspect of the microbial sciences.

The Cell and Developmental Biology Early Career Inclusive Excellence Seminar Series is open to postdoctoral fellows studying any aspect of cell and developmental biology.

Fireside chats

Fireside Chats is a new, regular series of conversations hosted by MCB’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee. The “My Journey in Science” Fireside Chats help us explore the question: Who belongs in research science? Many students have doubts about whether they have chosen the right path by entering a PhD program. We will showcase a variety of voices and stories to show the diversity of experiences among UIUC faculty and the challenges they have overcome throughout their careers.

Summer camp

The School of MCB partnered with the eClose Institute to offer a program for middle and high school students from historically excluded groups that introduced them to scientific research opportunities. The institute uses a citizen-scientist model, which means data collected from their experiments will be used to generate large data sets for professional cancer research. This approach not only engages middle and high school students in culturally relevant research, but also supports real-world cancer research and moves science forward. The School of MCB sponsored several students from the Urbana and Champaign public school districts.

Outreach with STEM Illinois

The School of MCB is a proud supporter of STEM Illinois, an outreach initiative of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and community partners. STEM Illinois aims to engage with K-12 students, especially those from diverse backgrounds and different learning styles, and connect them with STEM education and career opportunities. We help produce webcast episodes featuring alumni in health professions.

Holding Up the Sky: Women's Health and Wellness

Communiversity Think-and-Do webcast on Jan. 24, 2021. Guest speakers: Dr. Brittany Cline (BS, '16, molecular and cellular biology) and Dr. Camille Johnson (BS, '16, molecular and cellular biology and psychology).

A Road Map to Becoming a Doctor: Race, Space, and COVID-19

Communiversity Think-and-Do webcast on Nov. 14, 2020. Guest speakers: Dr. Kameno Bell (BS, '92, biology), Dr. Garth Walker (BS, '09, economics), Dr. Christopher Hicks (BS, '09, kinesiology)

Mental Health Tech Up

Communiversity Think-and-Do webcast on May 8, 2021, about mental health disparities and access. Guest speaker: Dr. Sadiq Patel (BS '05, molecular and cellular biology), teacher, consultant, social worker, and researcher at Harvard University.

MCB statements

Land acknowledgement

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, have a responsibility to acknowledge the historical context in which it exists. In order to remind ourselves and our community, we begin events with the following statement.

We are currently on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. It is necessary for us to acknowledge these Native Nations and for us to work with them as we move forward as an institution. Over the next 150 years, we will be a vibrant community inclusive of all our differences, with Native peoples at the core of our efforts.

For more information on how to include the land acknowledgement into materials or meetings, please visit: https://chancellor.illinois.edu/land_acknowledgement.html

Additional statements

Solidarity with Asian communities

The MCB community stands together in denouncing all acts of hate against Asians and Asian Americans, just as we denounce all acts of intolerance and hate within and outside our MCB community. We stand in solidarity with our Asian and Asian American colleagues against the forces of intolerance and hate, just as we stand in solidarity with all members of our community who face hate or intolerance.

To be clear, all are welcome here. MCB is a community of scholars with the shared goal of understanding the foundations of life itself. We come from diverse backgrounds. Many of us have traveled far and even crossed oceans to be here so that we can work together. Many of us have traveled far from our beginnings or backgrounds where science seemed an unlikely pursuit. We stand together. We recognize that everybody in MCB wants to be here for the same overall goal. One of the great strengths of our program is its diversity. The School of MCB affirms our commitment to our principle that all are welcome here.

Inclusion requires continuous reinforcement. This isn’t just about sensitivity or hurt feelings; this is about hate. And that can make people feel not only underappreciated or unwanted, it can make them feel scared.

Read more about our response to acts of hate and learn about additional university resources, with thanks to Bill Brieher and Supriya Prasanth for their CDB message.

School of MCB convocation remarks

Today (May 15, 2022) we celebrated the remarkable achievements of 274 MCB students at our school’s convocation ceremony. It was wonderful to return to this in-person format where we could acknowledge these students in front of their teachers, friends, and families.

Our event included a convocation address from a distinguished alumna of our school, Dr. Phyllis Gardner. During her remarks, Dr. Gardner spoke in detail about some of her own experiences while on campus in the 1960s and shared some of her personal opinions.

While Dr. Gardner is entitled to her opinions, they did not reflect the values that we hold dear in the school and on our campus.

We apologize to members of the community if Dr. Gardner’s words have caused any hurt. We strive every day to create a welcoming and inclusive community and acknowledge we have work to do. We are grateful for members of our MCB community, who are guiding our school as we educate ourselves and engage in these difficult conversations.